Zanzibarian Muslims: Natal (1873 – 1879)
Posted by tahirfarrath on March 18, 2010
(History of Muslims in South Africa)
1873 – Arrival of the Zanzibaris
The British Consul-General of Zanzibar, John Kerk, suggested in a letter to the Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, that a temporary arrangement could be made whereby the emancipated slaves from Zanzibar could be brought to Natal and be apprenticed to the White sugar planters. Thus, the first group of freed Zanzibaris arrived at Port Natal [later, Durban] on board H M S Briton from Zanzibar on August 04, 1873. They numbered 113, a large majority of whom were Muslims.
A year later, the H M S Kaff r landed at Port Natal with 81 more freed Zanzibaris.
According to a Government Notice No 142 of 1873 all the freed slaves were to be employed in Public Works. However, owing to intervention on the part of the White settlers, it was decided to divide them equally between Public Works and private individuals as indentured labourers.
These Zanzibaris, being Muslims, erected a wood and iron room to be used for their daily prayers. This room was constructed into a masjid proper in 1899.
1876 – Arrival of more freed slaves from Zanzibar
Another 226 freed slaves arrived at Port Natal from Zanzibar to work in the sugar plantations in Natal owned by White farmers.